Teachers reject pension reforms

Chris KeatesThe two biggest teachers' unions have rejected the Government's controversial pension reforms and vowed to continue their campaigns of opposition.

The National Union of Teachers said consultation among its members showed "strong support" for its campaign, including the possibility of further industrial action.
The NASUWT said it also continued to reject the Government's final plans and will carry on with its current campaign of action short of a strike. The two unions took part in last November's strike by around one and a half million public sector workers in protest at the pension changes.

NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said the vast majority of teaching unions across the UK had refused to accept the pension changes. "The Government has said negotiations have ended but we are demanding further talks," he said. "Based on the responses we have received from our members, we are going to carry on with the campaign. We do not accept the proposals and we will talk to other unions about how to coordinate campaigns. We are still considering further industrial action but we want to do that with other unions."

Some union leaders had raised the prospect of another strike on March 28 but the NUT, which has more than 300,000 members, will not be ready to take action by then.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "The NASUWT executive has voted unanimously to reject the Government's proposed final agreement. The Government's ideological intransigence, game playing, prevarication, provocative actions at key points in the process and refusal to engage in genuine negotiations are wholly to blame for this decision.

"The Government has wilfully refused, throughout months of discussions, to provide a valuation of the Teachers' pension scheme and has failed to provide one shred of evidence to support its view that the pensions of teachers are unaffordable or unsustainable.

"The proposed final agreement will be bad for teachers, bad for children and young people and bad for taxpayers. It represents a major worsening of the terms and conditions of service of teachers and headteachers.

"As a result of this, and other actions by the Government adversely affecting pay and conditions of service, children and young people will see dedicated and committed teachers leave the profession and recruitment of new teachers could be seriously affected."

The NASUWT said it will continue to pursue legal action against the Government and will decide its next move at its annual conference over Easter. A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "This is very disappointing. The deal on the table is as good as it gets and talks are not going to be reopened."

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